Now hate is a strong word – but let’s just take a moment to talk about Jeremy Kyle.
I know I shouldn’t watch his show – and add to his viewer stats – but I’m sad to admit it does stay on sometimes. It’s easy to do – cushioned between Lorraine and This Morning. There is also a ‘car crash’ element to the programme where I find it hard not to look at the disaster unravelling before my eyes.
If you wanted to incorporate a new drinking game into your life – put any episode of his show on (in the evening / once the kids are in bed) and take a shot every time the adjective noun combination ‘Bad Mother’ is said.
I like to imagine a producer in a large, black, leather chair, stroking a white cat (we can only see his arms) watching Jeremy on several screens. He growls:
“Not enough fighting…. bad mother her.” into his headset.
Jeremy nods and pulls out the big guns.
“I don’t want to upset you…” Jeremy says to the guest,
“But she/he says you’re a … BAD MOTHER.”
Cue full on scrap, swear words, storming off stage, death threats.
Because, of course, Jeremy did mean to upset them – because bad mother is the absolute worst thing you can call a mum. Myself – I would rather be called fat, ugly, stupid – anything – than bad mother.
It doesn’t just touch a nerve – it bloody destroys it.
I have a few mum friends; amazing, intelligent, strong, hard working, caring, generous and genuine women – who will message me about their day. It usually involves what they are currently battling; behaviour, sleep schedules, depression, health visitors, work loads, division of household labour – and I can tell you a high percentage of these messages end in them proclaiming “I’m a bad mother.” I immediately set about shouting at them (full caps) that they ARE NOT A BAD MOTHER! STOP IT. ENOUGH.
Because they aren’t. They truly aren’t. I don’t think any of us are. But boy – it’s easy to feel that way.
As soon as Jeremy is off it’s time to watch This Morning where they have a daily debate about parenting styles, or a parenting issue. Whether it’s breast feeding versus bottle – or blinging up the baby, or pushy mums, or sugared up children, or too much TV or not enough attention or too much attention or the latest thing you shouldn’t be doing in pregnancy. I mean just this morning they were talking about the damaging effects of neglecting your first born for a new sibling! Well that’s me fucked then. He will just have to stay in there – not to damage my poor precious first born’s poor head for life. Give me strength.
“Tell us what you think?” They bleat – as thousands, nay millions, queue up with their smart phones to tweet that these are bad mothers.
But I don’t blame Jeremy – or This Morning – or the public – we all have our opinions. And also because – I know who the worst culprit is – for throwing about this ‘Bad mother’ stuff; It’s ourselves.
We are our own worst enemies.
Since when did it become ok for us to thrash ourselves with this metaphorical cat o’ nine tails at the end of the day “Bad mother, you’re such a bad mother.” It must have been about the time we decided it was alright to call ourselves fat. It’s doing ourselves a disservice.
The guilt and worry we have as soon as we become mothers is palpable. All day long we are questioning whether we are doing the best for our babies, the best for our children – it never stops, it never goes away.
As soon as anyone expresses their opinion about breast feeding, working mums, soft play, nutrition we take it as a personal attack – “they are calling me a bad mother!” and they probably aren’t. We are just so terrified of being a ‘bad mother’ that we are extra sensitive to the dialogue.
Stay at home mums worry they should be working, working mums feel guilty about not being at home, we worry about nutrition, attention, development, when they will learn, when they will speak, when they will walk. Do we read to them enough? Do they know we love them? Do they have a family set up that is good enough… it goes on and on – and do I appreciate them enough? Oh – and if I moan about any of these things – am I a bad mother?
And that my friends – tells me immediately that we are not bad mothers. We are tired mothers, frustrated mothers, confused mothers, anxious mothers, insecure mothers, mothers in need of support, mothers in need of guidance, mothers in need of a hug. There are perhaps 1% who are truly bad mothers – and we will see them on the News.
The vast majority of us are doing our best – and we care – we want to do the best for our children. If your children are loved, warm and fed – well, then you’re a good mother.
If you are asking yourself right now if you are a bad mother – worrying if you are a bad mother – then that, in itself, makes you a good mother.
Anyway – ‘Bad Mother‘ is banned round these parts – we don’t want your words round here!
(“She has so much time to write these silly posts …what a bad mother she must be.” I write them when my toddler is napping! Shame on you)
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